There can't be a better image of the 2010 National League Division Series and the triumph of the San Francisco Giants than sidebar character actor Cody Ross being mobbed by his teammates as he raised his arms in victory. Because how Ross got there is the pure essence of American baseball.
A kid walks up to a sandlot ball game already in progress and a player on one of the teams sees him standing there and says, "Hey, kid, wanna play for us?" The kid eagerly jumps at the chance and ends up winning the game for his new team. Cody Ross was ejected from the mother ship by the Florida Marlins late in the 2010 season, and was plucked out of deep space by the Giants, ostensibly to prevent the rival San Diego Padres from picking him up.
Ross' value as a hitter and defensive outfielder was immediately recognized by Manager Bruce Bochy: his first game as a Giant was August 23rd, and of the 41 remaining games on the regular season schedule, Ross played in 37 of them. And then he went to the NLDS, put the offense on his shoulders, broke up a no-hitter with a home run off Braves' starter Derek Lowe in the 6th inning of Game 4, and became the unofficial MVP of the League Division Series.
But there's another side to Cody Ross, and you can see it in some of his photos, or by watching him in the dugout when the action gets hot. The maniacal Cody Ross whose enthusiasm and fierce competitiveness can be, well, a little frightening. And I go back to the classic 1949 Warner Brothers film "White Heat", and the crazy-wild sociopathic gangster Cody Jarrett so brilliantly played by James Cagney.
After a crime spree that would make John Dillinger envious, Jarrett is cornered by the cops in an industrial complex on the LA docks. Jarrett climbs the steps of a huge gas storage tank and shoots it out. As bullets tear into the tank, and jets of flaming gas explode around him, Jarrett shouts "Top of the world... I made it Ma... top of the world...".
Of course, I just couldn't help it; as Cody Ross' ball arched over the left field wall and he circled the bases in the top of the 6th last night, I frightened my own circle of friends with shouts of, "you made it Cody, you made it... top of the world!".
After eight years of not making it, this was a monumental moment of being on top of the world as the San Francisco Giants topped the Atlanta Braves 3-2 in NLDS game four, taking the Divison Series 3-1, and head to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2002.